How to figure out your next career move

Whether it’s a complete career change you’re after, or more meaning in your current role, creating a simple list of what you do and don’t want can help
by Fred Heritage


The new year is often a time when professionals seek out new challenges and opportunities in their lives. This January, though, even more people than usual are likely to be reassessing their career options.

After nearly two years of the pandemic, the world of work has fundamentally changed. And, for many people, that change will extend to what they’re looking for from their jobs.

Throughout 2021, workers in every country left their current roles in droves, seeking better pay and conditions, in a labour market phenomenon that’s been referred to as The Great Resignation. The UK experienced record numbers of job vacancies, with the ONS reporting a new national record of 1,172,000 vacancies in the period August to October, an increase of 388,000 from the pre-pandemic levels of January to March 2020.

But you don’t necessarily need to leave your job to find career happiness in 2022. Instead, fulfilment this year may be found in changing your existing role, adding some fresh responsibilities, training in new skills, or launching a ‘side hustle’ that can potentially be built into your own business.  

The three PsWhen determining what you want from a career change, a good place to start may be to create a simple pros and cons list. Your list could be guided by “the three Ps: purpose, people, and pace”, suggests leadership consultant and author Ann Hiatt in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

“Purpose, at its core, comes down to two things: knowing whom you want to serve and empower and by what method”, writes Hiatt. “The people on your immediate team inform the expertise you’ll gain, the leadership attributes you’ll inherit, and the growth experiences you’ll have.” Finally, “your desired pace is determined by your goals and current life circumstances, so your ideal role might change over time,” she writes.

By focusing on these three areas, those seeking a change may be better equipped to align their work and core values, increase their sense of career satisfaction, and avoid being overly influenced by factors like money or titles.

Plus another two: patience and practical steps

Once you have a clearer idea of the type of career shift you want to make, remember that change often takes time. It’s important to be patient and take small steps throughout the year to achieve your longer-term goals. “Before you dive in, it’s important to establish the right mindset” says leadership coach and mentor Nancy Roberts, in an article in The Huffington Post.

For those looking to take steps to achieve their career move this year, Roberts suggests the following actionable points:

  • Research and self-reflection
    “Do a personal SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to help you understand what you may need to work on, what strengths you already have that you can build on, and where opportunities might arise,” she says.

    “More than a specific role or company, you should consider things like salary, work location, flexibility, and your personal values, to ensure you are going to pursue the best course of action for the career that you want to achieve.”

  • Start moving yourself forward
    LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool (but there are plenty more – read our article on putting social media to work in your job search) to begin reaching out to individuals in roles, or at organisations, that you admire. “People are generally flattered to be asked about how they got to where they are and will happily give you half an hour of their time to share some advice,” she adds.

  • Revamp your CV
    During quieter periods, when new opportunities seem few and far between, “use this time to make sure your CV is perfect,” says Roberts.

    “Write a personal statement that gives a recruiter a very clear idea of what makes you special and put this front and centre. And get someone else to proofread your CV to ensure there are no spelling mistakes!”

  • Really push forward
    If you’re looking for a new role but haven’t yet sent out applications, Roberts suggests setting a target of sending out two or three applications per week. Or, if the roles you’re seeing aren’t right for you, send speculative applications to companies you admire. “You never know when a gap might open up that isn’t being widely advertised,” she adds.

“At this stage, networks really come into their own,” says Roberts. “Reciprocity is important in building influence so if people help you out with leads, tips and insights, try to find a way to support their work too, and you will have them coming back to you whenever they hear of anything that might be of interest. And when you do finally nail that dream career, take time out to acknowledge and thank the people who have helped you along the way!”

Seen a blog, news story or discussion online that you think might interest CISI members? Email
Published: 07 Jan 2022
  • Soft Skills
  • SWOT analysis
  • Great Resignation
  • speculative application
  • networking
  • job-hunting
  • career development

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